The Jungle Book is a live-action remake of the Disney classic of the same name, which is itself an adaptation of the book by Rudyard Kipling. The story follows the coming of age of Mowgli, a young boy left in the jungle and raised by animals.
Pro – Gorgeous
This is by far the best use of CGI I’ve ever seen, and as a fan of superhero movies, I’ve seen a lot. The visuals in this movie are so good, it’s easy to forget at times that it’s CGI and not real animals. All the animals are lovingly rendered and life-like, from the main characters to the small ones scurrying across the screen for the briefest of moments. The world in which these animals live is just as marvelous to look at. I generally prefer to avoid 3-D movies when possible, but in this case it just adds to the spectacle. One word of caution: despite being a great family movie in many ways, the movie looks so realistic that I would be careful of bringing younger kids, as there are parts that could be very scary for them.
Pro – Stars galore
Between this film and the Kevin Costner disaster Criminal, it feels like 80% of Hollywood was working this weekend. I had no idea how many great actors lent their voices to this film, but it’s really impressive. Idris Elba is excellent as Shere Khan, managing to be both menacing and majestic. Bill Murray is phenomenal as lovable Baloo, the bear, in what feels like a perfect casting. Special mention has to go to young Neel Sethi, who plays the man-cub, Mowgli. Those still suffering Annie trauma from The Phantom Menace have nothing to fear here. Young Neel is great as the main protagonist, and I’m sure a lot of credit for that is due to excellent directing and editing from Jon Favreau.
Pro – It’s a great movie
Know this. I was predisposed to dislike this film. I’m not a huge animal lover, I generally detest movies where the main protagonist is younger than 18; I’ve never seen the original Disney movie nor read Kipling’s stories; and I only went to see this film because I felt it was the movie of most interest to you, the reader. What I found was a really great coming-of-age story. It was exciting, it was fun, it was poignant at times, and it was funny. In a time where excitement seems to equate with having the fate of the world hanging in the balance, a young boy’s struggle to grow up, thrive, and just live life in the jungle really resonates. There is something in this movie for almost everyone to enjoy. It also doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in well under two hours, making it quite reasonable for young viewers.
This movie is as good as it looks, and that’s saying something!
Contributed by Ben Nietzel